Growing our Bean Knowledge

Recently we were talking coffee with friends, and I realized how quickly both our passion and knowledge have grown. Okay, probably Zack more than me. But we are married, so we share everything!

Moving to Norway two and a half years ago, coffee was a nice drink, one that we liked to make a pot of fairly often. We had already come to the point where we drank it black. But our world had not yet opened up to the wonderful world of hand brews, pour overs, and slow coffee.

Terms like V60 and Aeropress were not yet in our vocabularies, and we knew little of the importance of things like water temperature, filter color, blooming, and pouring techniques.

We still have a long way to go. We are learning more about the types of beans and the roasts that were prefer. We are discovering more about roasting methods.
Have you ever had unwashed beans? Quite unique.
We have not begun roasting at home, although I would not be shocked to see Zack go that direction one day.
And to be perfectly honest, I am not sure I will personally ever be at the level where I can identify the specific notes as I sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Perhaps a proper cupping course is in order.
But we really do enjoy coffee. Finding just the right beans. Learning new techniques. Trying new things.
The process of preparing a Hario or Aeropress is a large part of the overall experience. It really has become more than just drinking the coffee. And the gear is cool. And meeting people with a similar passion is fun. Exploring new shops has become a part of every vacation, day trip or business travel.

We really do enjoy the coffee culture.Are you a coffee lover? Do you enjoy a particular drink or a special brewing method?

Kaffetur 16 / Coffee Tour #16: Prufrock, London

First impressions are important. And having an espresso tamper for a door handle gave me a great first impression of Prufrock, in London.

 

Prufrock is known for fine coffee, as well as barista training courses and coffee lectures. I would love to see something like this in our area. I know a certain husband of mine who would be there in a heartbeat!

Once inside, I once again saw many of the elements common to today’s trends in coffee bars. High ceilings and wooden floors, well-lit, and a chalkboard menu. Yes, all the usuals. And yet, it still has its own look and feel. It is a nice size space, with lots of seating and room to move around.

Their coffee was great. We had the Suko Quto Ethiopia, from Barn in Berlin, served as a V60.

For those close to London and Prufrock, you might want to check out their upcoming event. Tim Wendelboe (yes, from Oslo!) will be the next guest speaker in their lecture series, on 17 August. (more info HERE)

 

Prufrock Coffee
23-25 Leather Lane
Greater London
EC1N 7TE
free wifi ~ Open 7 days a week

 

Now it feels like home!

Packing for Virginia (3 years ago last week)
There’s Santa!

Expat life often involves lots of suitcases. Lots of cleaning out and paring things down. Change. Moves. New places, new faces, and a search for a sense of home.

One of my childhood friends is preparing to move his family to Italy. His wife recently posted on Facebook, asking expat friends for suggestions on what to pack and what not to pack.

I really enjoyed reading the comments. And some stood out more than others.
A couple of people suggested something that I especially appreciated. They encouraged her to pick out a couple of items in her current home that they could take with them as a symbol of home. Then, no matter where they are, when they see these things, they’ll know they’re home.
We actually have one such item ourselves. He was a gift from Zack the first Christmas after we got married. He’s a beanie baby Santa. He stays out year round at our home. And he lives wherever we live.
Three homes in Georgia, then Virginia, Vancouver, Oslo and now Sandefjord.
Most people who see it probably think it’s weird that we have a Santa sitting out. But when I see him, I know I’m home.
If you were preparing to move overseas, what would you insist on taking with you? What is one thing you have that always lets you know you’re home?

How High?!?!

It really is a shame how little we have seen of this beautiful country after 2 1/2 years here.

 

We did manage to expand our horizons this past weekend. We have now explored a good bit more of at least the southern part of the country.

 

As we made our way to Stavanger last Friday, we stopped about an hour outside of the city to experience one of the more iconic hikes in the area.

 

 

Preikestolen – or Pulpit Rock – is something I’d seen in pictures before moving here. But pictures pale in comparison to the reality.

 

 

Standing nearly 2000 feet / 600 meters above the Lysefjord, this rock formation is impressive… and a bit scary!
Preikestolen / Pulpit Rock

It took us just under 2 hours to make the walk to the top. And it was amazing.

 

We highly recommend this hike!

 

Here is a video from our weekend in Stavanger. The first 6-7 minutes will give you a glimpse of our Preikestolen experience.

Tips for Preikestolen:

  • Wear good shoes. While the path is fairly wide, it is also very rocky. Careful measures have been taken to ensure that all the foot traffic (200,000+ visitors annually) don’t destroy the area.
  • Take water with you. And pack a lunch. There is no hytte/kiosk/snack bar at the top. We took a couple of Camelback-style backpacks, several packs of nuts, and sandwiches. There are quite a few spots along the way where you can stop and rest when needed.
  • Start early, or start later in the day. Mid-day hikes mean more traffic, and more of a queue. We arrived just after 2:00 and the majority of the traffic we encountered was from people descending the mountain. We also went on a weekday, thinking that weekends might be more crowded.
  • Most of the websites suggest hiking from April to October. Otherwise, you might encounter some additional weather challenges.
  • You can read more on Visit Norway’s Preikestolen page.

Jolly Old London Town

Coming back around to the last post about Anna’s (my niece) recent visit. The last stop on our trip was London.

In December 1993, when I was a junior in high school, I had the opportunity to visit London on a school trip. There were a couple hundred of us on the trip, including my sweet friend, Kristy. Little did I know that a few years later, she would become my sister-in-law! It was a great trip and we both fell in love with the city.

See the 3 faces in the background? 🙂

So what a cool thing that just over 20 years later, I had the chance to take my niece to London! And even better: Zack and the boys joined us on this leg of the trip. It was William and Daniel’s first time in London as well.

It was fun showing them some of Zack’s and my favorite places, and discovering a few new ones as well.

Of course we saw all the obligatory spots, like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Thames…

And the original Hard Rock!

As HP fans, we also made a stop at Platform 9 3/4!

 

We only had two full days, but we managed to see a lot. On the second morning, Anna and I went to Tower of London.

 

And the boys took a tour of Chelsea’s stadium.

Of course, there was also coffee!

 

 

We took the Tube to Notting Hill, which is now one of my favorite areas in London. Love this area!

The antique store used in the movie Paddington Bear

 

William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant) travel book
shop from Notting Hill

 

The Blue Door to William Thacker’s flat in
Notting Hill

 

 

 

A quick stop on Baker Street…

 

Total tourists on Abbey Road

 

 

And we finished off our visit at a great Fish & Chips restaurant in Notting Hill.

 

 

 

Have you heard about Tastemade?

We are excited to announce that we are participating in a fairly new site, Tastemade.

 

Tastemade is a video community created to “connect the world through food.” (https://m.facebook.com/tastemade/about)
We think it is a great way to check out the best of a city’s eats before a trip. And we also saw it as a great way to share what we discover around Norway.

 

Our first video highlights our recent visit to Coffeeberry.

https://www.tastemade.com/places/v/VN4p7P2tQb-bThx1daucwA

To learn more and to follow along with our Tastemade adventures, visit: https://www.tastemade.com/@notesfromnorge

Kaffetur 15 / Coffee Tour #15: Coffeeberry, Stavanger

We just returned from a long weekend in Stavanger, on the southwest coast of Norway.And before I go any further, I have to say thanks to our friends for letting us stay in their home while they were traveling!

I wasn’t having a lot of luck when I did my usual pre-travel coffee research. I did read a bit about a few shops, but nothing much. So I called out to Facebook friends, and got some great advice.

The best tip was to try Coffeeberry. And we were so glad we did!

Coffeeberry has two locations, in Sandnes and Stavanger. We visited their downtown Stavanger cafe.

The decor is done well. Brightly colored walls on each end reflect the whimsical nature of both Coffeeberry’s logo and their packaging. One end of the shop is painted a bright turquoise, while the other boasts Coffeeberry’s signature bright red.

The furniture is retro and fun. A plethora of teakwood furniture fills the shop, and the walls are adorned with what I would consider throwback Norwegian art. Maybe the kind of work you’d see on the walls of your family’s hytta/cabin.

As you step in, the focal point is the copper coffee bar. And their wall menus are a playful touch, reminiscent of a diner or sandwich shop from years ago.

We visited Coffeeberry twice over the weekend. On the first day, we tried a hand brewed Colombian coffee, and an espresso. Both were excellent. While there we picked up a couple of bags of beans, from Colombia and Ethiopia.

On our second visit, we had their daily coffee. This particular day was from Burundi, and was another  top-notch choice. We also ordered a con panna (our current go-to specialty drink), a shakerato and a caramel ice latte.

Everything we tried was delicious.

Coffeeberry also offers a selection of pastries, salads, sodas, and juices.

For those of you with small children, you’ll be happy to know that they have a kids’ corner with some toys to occupy your little one while you enjoy your drink.

Coffeeberry: another superb offering from the world of Nordic coffee. Definitely worth a stop-in!

You can also check out our Tastemade review of Coffeeberry!

Coffeeberry
Klubbgata 3, 4013 Stavanger
Våsgate 34, 4306 Sandnes

 

Celebration recap

We had a fun day celebrating Daniel and celebrating family.

Tradition dictates (at least in our family) that when it’s your Gotcha Day, you get to choose everything.
So Daniel made his selections! We started the day with Nutella toast and cheese eggs.
Then we were off to the ‘bowling area’ – Daniel’s name for the bowling alley.

Next up was eating McDonalds in the park.

We walked around the city and visited the Tivoli (carnival).

 

Then it was back home for dinner.
One of Daniel’s favorite foods is mussels. He is really the only one who likes them, so we enjoyed salmon while he feasted on a seemingly endless pot of his fave.

 

We had a fun day celebrating five years with our funny guy!

 

Kaffetur 14 / Coffee Tour #14: Drop Coffee, Stockholm

On the very top of my must-see/must-do list for Stockholm is Drop Coffee.
If you like coffee, start your day here.
Would it be to cliche to say you must Drop by? Yeah, I thought so.

Drop is a fairly NKOTB.

That’s new kid on the block for those of you who didn’t have the privilege of growing up in the 80’s.

It’s been around since 2009. But don’t let its age fool you. It is legit.

The space is clean and simple. The food is art. And the baristas really know what they’re doing.

And the coffee? Excellent.

On my most recent trip, I ordered a pour-over from Ethiopia. Anna tried their São Judas from Brazil. Both were delicious.

Scandinavia knows their coffee, and Stockholm has some great offerings. In my opinion, Drop is right on top of the list for this fantastic city.

While it is not in the heart of the most touristy part of the city, its location in Södermalm is well worth the visit.

And Södermalm is a pretty cool area anyway!

http://www.dropcoffee.com